Wii Fit Review

Wii Fit's simple workouts run out of charm pretty quickly, but for some, the subtle nudge to get on a better workout plan will be worth the price of admission.

Wii Fit accomplishes exactly what Nintendo representatives said it would prior to its release: it makes its users more cognizant about what's going on with their bodies and, along those lines, it made me think a little bit more about my overall health... for about four days.  After waking up to Wii Fit for less than a week, my interest in the simple stretching and balance exercise waned, leaving me on the hunt for a more intense and interesting workout than Wii Fit and its balance board can provide.

Breathing, stretching, and balancing are the keys to Wii Fit.
Breathing, stretching, and balancing are the keys to Wii Fit.
So that's the rub. On one hand, Wii Fit's collection of minigames wasn't really enough to keep me coming back. On the other, it managed to get me thinking about getting back on my old workout plan, and also gave me a quick look at my posture and weight distribution. In a way, I'm thankful for that, but that doesn't exactly translate into an immediate recommendation that you should run right out and spend $90 on the board and game package, especially now that it's become a hard-to-find item that many retailers are bundling or selling for more than its original $89.99 price point.

Wii Fit is broken up into two sections. The first is a scale, center of balance calculator, and calendar. Here you tell the game how tall you are, you stand on the board, and it weighs you. This info is used to tell you if you're overweight or not, using the sometimes-controversial Body Mass Index rating to decide. It also lets you know if you're evenly distributing weight between your feet, or if you're resting back on your heels too much.

The calendar is for setting weight loss goals. While the game will warn you if you set an overly aggressive goal, it seems like the game should be able to look at your weight and perhaps suggest some goals, rather than leaving you to guess at it until it stops warning you.

There are also some simple balance tests you can take in this section of the game, and all of this data is combined to form your Wii Fit age, which is just as scientific (and just as dopey) as the way Brain Age would determine the age of your brain. The first time I stepped on and took the test, the game claimed my Wii Fit age was ten years above my actual age. After playing it for two days, it started claiming I was two years younger than my actual age, even though I had only lost around four pounds. It's a senseless statistic that will probably confuse people who don't already know how the same number works in the Brain Age games.

The rest of the game is a collection of minigames that pose as exercises. They're broken up into multiple categories, such as strength training, yoga, and aerobic activity. The yoga involves a lot of stretching and breathing, but all the game is really interested in tracking is how well you balance yourself while stretching. This feels like a minor point in the overall scheme of things, since it isn't measuring how well you're able to bend and perform some of the different yoga poses. Regardless of that, the game doesn't really provide you with any set warmup or cooldown exercises, and the yoga poses work well for that.

The strength training has you doing pushups on the balance board, or performing torso twists, and so on. The aerobic section has you moving a bit more, but since the board can only sense your balance and how often you're stepping on it, it doesn't feel like it's built to really gauge your performance. There's a jogging mode built in, but jogging in place on your floor while holding the Wii Remote so the game knows you're actually moving doesn't seem like a very effective workout.

There's that rub again. Wii Fit didn't strike me as a very effective workout device, yet it got me thinking that I needed something better, rather than making me think I needed to stop waking up 30 minutes earlier for some morning exercise.

Once you've outgrown the activities in Wii Fit, the yoga may still come in handy as a warmup, and the scale and calendar can be used to track your progress, regardless of your workout plan. With that in mind, Wii Fit is a decent package, and it works exactly as advertised. But you may outgrow it quickly. Unless you're already convinced that you'll want other balance board games down the line, you're probably better off just going for a nice, long walk.